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BlackBerry: smartphone users 'don't need apps'

RIM CEO dismisses apps for BlackBerry

Research in Motion's attitude toward mobile applications seems to be, "If you can't beat 'em, dismiss 'em."

RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told attendees at today's Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco that smartphone and tablet users "don't need an app for the Web," since the most important aspect of any mobile device is the Internet experience it delivers to its users.

"You don't need to go through some kind of control point," Balsillie explained. "That's the core part of our message…It is really not about a set of proprietary rules or about 'appifying' the Web. The Web needs a platform that allows you to use your existing Web content, not apps."

Mobile applications have become an increasingly popular feature of smartphones over the past couple of years, especially with the high-profile launches of application shopping centers such as Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market. The most recent survey data from research firm ChangeWave shows that 14% of smartphone users said that applications were what they liked best about new smartphones, followed by ease of use (12%) and Internet access (12%). Corporate e-mail access, which has long been RIM's bread-and-butter application, was considered the most important feature by 10% of users, the survey showed.

While RIM has launched its own application store, known as BlackBerry App World, the company exacts more control over what it allows onto its devices. Google, by contrast, has much more of an "anything goes" policy that relies primarily on users to fish out applications that are either inappropriate or that contain malware. Balsillie's remarks came just one day after RIM posted a video comparing the Web experience users get on an iPad vs. the Web experience they'll get on RIM's new PlayBook tablet. Among other things, the video compared browser speeds between the two tablets while also touting the PlayBook's support for both Adobe Flash and HTML 5.  

Apple and Adobe have been feuding over the past year over Flash's performance, as Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said that Flash is a poorly designed program responsible for crashing Apple computers and is also ill-equipped for mobile devices since it sucks up battery life and has security holes. RIM and many Google Android-based devices have touted their support of Flash as a key differentiator between themselves and Apple since Flash is the most commonly-used program to deliver video content over the Internet.

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